UAE Tour stage 2: Brandon McNulty wins time trial as UAE Team Emirates go 1-2-3

American takes race lead ahead of Jay Vine and Mikkel Bjerg as Emirati team dominate on 12.1km course

Clock12:38, Tuesday 20th February 2024
Brandon McNulty on his way to victory in the UAE Tour time trial

© Tim de Waele / Velo Collection via Getty Images

Brandon McNulty on his way to victory in the UAE Tour time trial

Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) secured time trial victory on stage 2 of the UAE Tour, powering to a time of 13:27 over the pan-flat 12.1km course around Al Hudayriyat Island.

The only riders that could come close to US time trial champion McNulty were his own teammates, with UAE Team Emirates finishing 1-2-3 on the stage as Jay Vine and Mikkel Bjerg took second and third, two and four seconds down on the lead respectively.

The recent Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana GC winner now leads the race overall, taking over from stage 1 winner Tim Merlier (Soudal Quick-Step).

Among the other GC riders, Ilan Van Wilder (Soudal Quick-Step), Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious), Ben O’Connor (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale) and Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) were the biggest winners, all finishing in the top 15 and within 30 seconds of McNulty.

The gaps on GC are emerging but still modest, and will no doubt be shaken up on stage 3 as the race takes on its first summit finish atop Jebel Jais.

“We were looking at the wind, and they decided that the wind would pick up at least a little bit throughout the day, so we put our best three guys to start first. It paid off, I guess,” McNulty said, after spending most of the day in the lead.

“Personally it was good. I wasn’t sure how I was feeling because the power wasn’t reading quite right I don’t think, but I think I had good speed, I was looking at that the whole TT, and in the end obviously I have to be satisfied because I won. The team’s put so much into the time trial set-up, I think it’s really paying off for everyone.”

“I had my first GC win a couple of weeks ago and now my first WorldTour time trial - it’s been a good month.”

A long day in the hot seat for McNulty after impressive effort

With teams and riders given some choice in starting order — as everyone was on the same GC time after the opening stage — the time trial saw some big names start early in the order to get their efforts done. First to start was Ineos Grenadiers’ Elia Viviani, who set the opening time of 14:49 on the 12.1km course, but that was soon to be beaten.

One of the big names who went down the ramp early was McNulty, who promptly set the fastest time of the first wave with a time of 13:27, overtaking his minute man Natnael Tesfatsion (Lidl-Trek) in the process. GC favourite and McNulty’s teammate Adam Yates finished soon after, 28 seconds down on the best time.

Surprisingly, UAE Team Emirates’ next rider, TT specialist Mikkel Bjerg, also fell short of his teammate’s time, stopping the clock at 13:31. The home team ended up taking control of the TT, with Jay Vine finishing his ride in provisional second, just two seconds down on McNulty and putting UAE riders provisionally 1-2-3.

Throughout the next wave, no riders could get close enough to topple the top three times, with a few finishers slotting into the top 10 but UAE’s trio holding fast at the top. The rider who got closest was Ineos Grenadiers’ Tobias Foss, who made headlines for his 68-tooth chainring on his TT bike, but the former world champion finished 14 seconds down on McNulty, and 10 seconds adrift of Bjerg to slot into provisional fourth.

Even the specialists were struggling to compete with the UAE trio’s times, with French time trial champion Rémi Cavagna (Soudal Quick-Step) almost thirty seconds down on McNulty. Finishing as probably the final real threat on the start list, Cavagna’s time all but confirmed McNulty’s win, with only seven more riders left to finish.

As red jersey-wearer Tim Merlier crossed the line in 101st place, McNulty’s win was ratified, as well as UAE Team Emirates’ clean sweep of the top three placings. Foss remained in fourth place, whilst Bahrain Victorious’ Austrian rider Rainer Kepplinger took a surprising fifth place.

Most of the main GC contenders will start stage 3 within 30 seconds of McNulty, but a few have already dropped down the rankings: Carlos Verona (Lidl-Trek) finished 55 seconds down, Tour Down Under revelation Bart Lemmen (Visma-Lease a Bike) lost 42 seconds, and Bora-Hansgrohe GC card Emanuel Buchmann was 1:03 down.

For all the latest news and results from the UAE Tour, visit our dedicated race hub.

Race Results

1

us flag

MCNULTY Brandon

UAE Team Emirates

13' 27"

2

au flag

VINE Jay

UAE Team Emirates

+ 2"

3

dk flag

BJERG Mikkel

UAE Team Emirates

+ 4"

4

no flag

FOSS Tobias

INEOS Grenadiers

+ 14"

5

at flag

KEPPLINGER Rainer

Bahrain Victorious

+ 16"

6

be flag

VAN WILDER Ilan

Soudal Quick-Step

+ 17"

7

dk flag

PRICE-PEJTERSEN Johan

Bahrain Victorious

+ 19"

8

es flag

BILBAO Pello

Bahrain Victorious

"

9

fr flag

ARMIRAIL Bruno

Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale Team

+ 20"

10

es flag

ROMEO Ivan

Movistar Team

+ 21"

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